BBC chooses not to report Hamas abuse of medical permits yet again

Readers may recall that just over a month ago listeners to BBC domestic radio’s news and current affairs station, Radio 4, were told by a presenter of the ‘Today’ show (which reaches 6.8 million listeners a week) that:

“The fact remains that healthcare restrictions are being used to dehumanise the Palestinian people…” 

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ listeners get a distorted view of medical permits – part one

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ listeners get distorted view of medical permits – part two

As was noted here at the time, the BBC has a history of ignoring stories (see ‘related articles’ below) which explain the need for security checks before permits are given to residents of the Gaza Strip to travel to or through Israel for the purpose of medical treatment. 

Last week another such story emerged when the Israel Security Agency announced the arrest of a Hamas explosives expert who had entered Israel with a humanitarian permit for medical treatment. The Jerusalem Post reports:

“Fadi Abu al-Sabah, a 35-year-old resident of the Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, was arrested in Taybeh by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police on May 18, 2019.

According to the Shin Bet, he was recruited to set up an explosive manufacturing laboratory in July 2018 by Ashraf Sabah, a 37-year-old Hamas activist from the Gaza Strip who had been released from prison in Israel in 2015 after serving 12 years in prison for his involvement in attacks against IDF forces along the Gaza Strip border and planning other terrorist attacks.
The agency said that he was first approached after Sabah heard that he was in the process of getting a humanitarian permit for medical treatment in the West Bank.

Fadi al-Sabah then secretly met with operatives from Hamas’s Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades and underwent “intensive military training” including training in how to manufacture explosives and explosive charges which he could then teach to Hamas operatives in the West Bank. […]

Al-Sabah “took advantage of the humanitarian permit he received from Israel to enter for medical treatment in Hebron, but in practice did not arrive at the hospital, but he joined forces with elements in Hebron in order to promote terrorist activities and carry out his mission,” the Shin Bet statement said.”

A truly impartial media organisation would of course make sure to report such stories in order to ensure that its audience had been given the full range of information necessary for proper understanding of the subject.

Once again, however, the BBC has chosen to ignore a story about Hamas terrorists exploiting the humanitarian aid Israel provides to residents of the Gaza Strip and that not only means that audiences are not fully informed, but also that BBC employees such as Mishal Husain can continue to use their publicly funded platform to promote their chosen brand of journalistic activism unhindered by inconvenient truths.

Related Articles:

BBC ignores another story explaining the need for Gaza border restrictions

BBC News again ignores abuse of Israeli humanitarian aid to Gaza

Another Gaza maritime smuggling story ignored by the BBC

While the BBC has been telling its audiences for years that “Israel says” that the counter-terrorism measures imposed on the Gaza Strip are for security reasons, it usually refrains from reporting stories which would clarify why such measures are necessary both on land and at sea.

Photo credit: IDF Spokesman

Another such story emerged late last week when the Israeli army announced that – days after terrorists in the Gaza Strip had launched nearly 700 rocket attacks against Israeli civilians – it had prevented an attempt to breach the naval blockade.

“The army said four suspects were arrested last month after trying to break a maritime blockade on the coastal enclave and reach Egypt in two boats.

The incident occurred on May 11, but was only cleared for publication on Friday.

According to a statement released by the Israel Defense Forces, the four were attempting to reach the coast of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, where they were to pick up 24 drums of fiberglass material.

The army said the material, which is forbidden to import into the Strip, was to be used by Hamas, the terror group that is the de facto ruler of the Strip, to build rockets.”

Unsurprisingly given the corporation’s past record, BBC audiences have to date heard nothing of that story. They have, however, in recent months been told context-free stories about Gaza’s fishing sector.  

Related Articles:

BBC News passes up on Gaza Strip weapons smuggling story

BBC waives another chance to explain why Gaza’s naval blockade exists

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ listeners get a distorted view of medical permits – part one

For years the BBC’s portrayal of the topic of healthcare in the Gaza Strip has failed to give audiences an accurate and impartial view of the subject.

BBC News passes up the chance to set the record straight on Gaza shortages

The BBC, the Gaza Strip and medical supplies

No BBC follow-up on story used to mislead on Gaza medical services

Moreover, while the BBC knows full well that issues such as shortages of medical supplies and medicines – along with refusals to cover treatment costs and late or non-existent applications for entry permits into Israel for Palestinian patients – are the results of Palestinian Authority policies, it continues to frame such topics as being first and foremost connected to Israeli security measures.

“There is a considerable impact through the blockade on health facilities and that was shown…for example I did a report that ran last night on the ten o’clock news and you could see how medical facilities are suffering.” Mishal Husain, ‘Today’, BBC Radio 4, January 18th 2019

Not infrequently, BBC audiences have been told partially portrayed stories about children and infants to illustrate such reports.

“Because the blockade restricts the movement of people, patients need to request permission to leave. This two-day old baby with a congenital heart defect was waiting for an exit permit when we filmed him. Four days later he died. His permission hadn’t come through.” Mishal Husain, BBC One ‘News at Ten’, January 17th 2019

And it’s becoming more difficult to get Israeli permits to transfer seriously ill patients out of Gaza, partly because the PA is giving fewer guarantees it will cover their medical costs elsewhere. The doctor tells me how, days ago, he broke this news to the parents of a newborn with a congenital heart condition who went on to die. ‘How did I do this?’ he asks me. ‘I’m speaking to you not as a doctor but as a human being’.” [emphasis added] Yolande Knell, BBC Radio 4, July 22nd 2017 [emphasis added]

The latest BBC report in that genre was aired on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on May 31st. Presenter Mishal Husain introduced the long item (from 01:45:37 here). [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Husain: “Being diagnosed with a serious medical condition such as cancer in Gaza, where many medical treatments are not available, means a series of complex problems beyond your diagnosis. With a financial crisis and a deep rift between Hamas – which rules Gaza – and Fatah – which dominates the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank – many drugs are in short supply.”

If listeners thought that they were about to hear more about that “deep rift” and how it and PA policy translates into a long-standing crisis in the health system in the Gaza Strip and reduced referrals for treatment elsewhere, they were mistaken.

Husain: “Treatments and travel are also restricted by the tight blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt. Often, a patient’s best hope is to get to one of the Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem. The final stage of that process is a permit from the Israeli authorities. Our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell reports.”

Knell: “There’s a crowd of cancer patients at the Augusta Victoria reception from early morning. Many come from Gaza and have had long hold-ups for potentially life-saving treatment.”

Woman [voiceover]: “My treatment is going to take longer as my tumour grew because of the delay. The longer you wait, the scarier it gets with this disease.”

Knell: “And yet these patients say they’re lucky as they’ve reached East Jerusalem. Those aged 16 to 55 have gone through more thorough Israeli security checks. Now, they’re in the only Palestinian hospital where Israel allows radiation treatment and it has the drugs they need.”

According to a study published in October 2018:

“In 2013, the first radiation oncology service in the Palestinian territories opened in the August-Victoria Hospital. There are now three linear accelerators in the Palestinian territories…” [emphasis added]

The report continued:

Woman [voiceover]: “In Gaza it’s difficult. All they do is check you. You live, you die, that’s it. The travelling is exhausting but this is the only place to get treatment. Getting permits is hard unless you’re in your 50s or 60s. Many younger people just have to stay in Gaza.”

Knell: Increasingly, hospitals in Gaza lack essential medicines including for cancer. The territory’s run by Hamas but a rival administration – the Palestinian Authority – is responsible for sending medical supplies. The PA also authorises patients getting treated outside. Then, the Israeli authorities decide who gets an exit permit. The bureaucracy for Gazans exasperates oncologist Dr Yussuf Hamamra [phonetic].”

Hamamra: “They have to go through a very complicated process. That’s mean two thirds of them they are coming to us in very advanced stage unfortunately. They need to have permission to come from the Israeli side and also financial coverage from the Palestinian minister [ministry] of health and you know sometimes here the politics of course will affect strongly the situation and [unintelligible] the patients they need to come to my clinic within 2 weeks, they need at least 2 months.”

Knell: “Upstairs, in the children’s ward, 13-year-old Mahmoud sings for his nurses while he’s hooked up to a drip for his chemotherapy. The lyrics about homesickness are poignant but for the first time in a year, Mahmoud does have his mum with him instead of an elderly grandparent. She’s now got security clearance from Israel.”

With no identifying details given, it is of course impossible to check out Knell’s story and understand why the mother allegedly did not initially receive a permit. Knell made no effort to fill in those obviously relevant details for listeners before going on to tell of more than one baby “on their own” but actually providing details of just one case.

Knell: “And here, in the neo-natal ward at the Makassed hospital, there are some tiny patients on their own. After the militant group Hamas took over Gaza more than a decade ago, Israel tightened its restrictions on people’s movements, citing security concerns. The Israeli authorities say it’s their policy for sick children to be accompanied by a parent but that doesn’t always happen. Baby Shahd was born prematurely in January, the only survivor of triplets. She’s now healthy, smiling at me in her cot. For over two months she’s been waiting to be taken home. Her mother was sent back to Gaza shortly after giving birth. This cash-strapped hospital had no place for her to stay.” […]

When I watch, it’s a nurse feeding Shahd but later I’m told of a happy reunion. Her mother was finally able to come and collect her this week. The staff are delighted. Here, at the East Jerusalem hospitals, they care for some of the most vulnerable Palestinian patients – tough financial and political realities only adding to the serious conditions they’re in.”

The background to that story promoted by Knell – which had been reported on May 29th by an Israeli media outlet and which again came up moments later in the same item – is actually as follows:

“In January, the Gazan woman, pregnant with triplets, arrived at the Makassed Hospital for urgent surgery. She went into labor and gave birth but two of the siblings, both boys, died days later.

The mother returned to Gaza to bury her two sons while Shahd, the girl, stayed behind in Jerusalem, where she was taken care of by hospital staff.

The hospital repeatedly asked the Palestinian Authority to request a permit from the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories for Shahd’s mother or father to come back to Israel, but the efforts failed. […]

COGAT said in a statement that it received just one previous request for a permit, but it was faulty and therefore not approved.”

Mishal Husain then (from 01:50:54) introduced the next part of the item.

Husain: “Well Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is a Labour MP and has recently returned from Jerusalem and the West Bank where she was visiting hospitals and doing medical work. […] And one of the cases you saw was that of this little baby.”

Allin-Khan did indeed visit the region between April 4th and 8th this year on a trip paid for by the political NGO ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’ (MAP) as she went on to state. However, listeners heard nothing from her or from Mishal Husain about that NGO’s political agenda and its history of anti-Israel campaigning.

Allin-Khan then proceeded – unchallenged by Husain – to give a false account of the story.

Allin-Khan: “Yes, I met baby Shahd when I went to East Jerusalem with Medical Aid for Palestinians to help them and support their work that they do there. I met baby Shahd who sadly was the only baby surviving of three triplets born to a mother that wasn’t able to stay in the hospital and the sad case was that the staff in the hospital had to tell the mother over the phone that her other two babies had died. Being a clinician myself I cannot imagine what that must be like. But being a mother, I cannot imagine the incomprehensible pain to hear that you cannot be with your children as they take their dying breath.”

Rather than correcting the inaccurate version of the story told by her interviewee, Husain embellished it.  

Husain: “Because she had gone back to…eh…Gaza or her permit didn’t allow her to remain and the three new-born babies were in this…were in this neo-natal unit.”

Allin-Khan: “Yes.”

Husain: “What about the children who are having cancer treatment? There was one of them reflected in that report who had his mother with him on that day but there are other times when they’re receiving chemotherapy without their parents being allowed to have come to Jerusalem with them.”

Allin-Khan then came up with a completely unsupported claim that likewise went unquestioned.

Allin-Khan: “It’s very rare for them to have their parents with them. I went to the paediatric oncology ward that was featured in the piece and it’s full of children whose eyes are full of fear and sadness. Some as young as 2 or 3 facing chemotherapy alone without their mother. And we wouldn’t find it acceptable in the UK for children to endure the most unspeakable pain such as going through cancer chemotherapy without their mother there and some of them were so distressed that they couldn’t even communicate with their parents over the phone.”

Husain: “I mean there’s a complicated security situation – we’ll be talking to the Israeli deputy ambassador about that in a moment – but what could be done do you think to improve this? At least for the children.”

Allin-Khan: “Fundamentally this is a humanitarian crisis born out of political choice. The cases described today are not uncommon and frankly inhumane. Permit delays are in fact permit denials which in many cases cost lives and I’m going to be calling on the UK government to apply pressure on the Israeli government because I would hope that everyone, regardless of their politics, has enough humanity to accept that no child should die alone or endure painful treatment on their own.”

So what did Radio 4 listeners actually get here? Yolande Knell picked up a story which had appeared two days earlier in the Israeli media and made an item out of it which dovetails nicely with the BBC’s existing framing of the topic of Israeli counter-terrorism measures. The ‘Today’ programme then brought in a British MP with a vague connection to the same story to promote commentary that serves the long-standing political campaign by MAP and other anti-Israel NGOs concerning the ‘blockade’.

Listeners did not hear the word ‘terror’ once throughout those seven minutes but they did hear a false version of the core story which enabled promotion of the notion that children “die alone” and undergo “painful treatment on their own” (even when a grandparent or another family member is present) because of Israeli policy – which was clearly signposted to listeners as being “inhumane”.

The rest of this item will be discussed in part two of this post.

 

The BBC’s Gaza framing evolves with Jon Donnison

The December 17th afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included a thirteen-minute item which made use of part of Mishal Husain’s broadcast from the Gaza Strip that listeners to BBC Radio 4 had heard earlier in the day.

Presenter Jon Donnison introduced that item (from 30:06 here) using framing identical to that previously heard in the Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Donnison: “Gaza’s economic statistics make for grim reading. According to the World Bank 54% of the labour force in the tiny Palestinian territory is unemployed. The figure goes up to 70% for youth unemployment. Around eight out of every ten Gazans are dependent on food aid and around half of Gaza’s population of around 2 million people are registered refugees. Well today the UN is launching an appeal to raise $350 million for Palestinian refugees who it says are in dire humanitarian need. It comes after the United States cut hundreds of millions of dollars of UN funding destined for Palestinians. The economy’s been impacted by a blockade maintained by Israel and Egypt – they say for their security – and incomes have also been affected by Palestinian Authority sanctions on Hamas, the movement which has been in power in Gaza since 2007. Well the BBC’s Mishal Husain visited one of the refugee camps with Matthias Schmale, head of Gaza operations for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.”

Contrary to Donnison’s claim, the UN appeal for $350 million does not specify “Palestinian refugees” as the beneficiaries.

Listeners then heard Mishal Husain’s ‘Shati walkabout’ interview with Matthias Schmale which did not include any challenge whatsoever to UNRWA’s politicised messaging or any background information concerning that organisation and its mission, Hamas’ financial prioritisation of terrorism over civilian welfare and the effects of the Hamas-Fatah dispute on the Gaza Strip’s economy.

At 36:57 Jon Donnison then introduced an interviewee whose participation was obviously intended to reinforce the BBC’s highly selective framing of the ‘Gaza economic crisis’ story.

Donnison: “Well Sharren Haskel is a member of the Knesset – Israel’s parliament. She’s with the governing Likud party and also sits on the foreign affairs and defence committee. […] Ehm, first of all, how has Israel and Israeli citizen benefited from this blockade?”

Haskel: “Well you know your report actually brings out something that’s quite concerning because it’s very easy – and this is something that’s being repeated time after time – to sort of blame Israel for all the problems. But it’s really sort of letting Hamas off the hook…”

Donnison [interrupts]: “Well we heard…we heard the UN chap there being quite critical of Hamas. I’m asking you how has Israel…how has this blockade helped Israel’s citizens over the past 12 years?”

As Haskel spoke about Hamas’ investment of funding in cross-border tunnels and weapons rather than infrastructure and social services for the citizens of the Gaza Strip, Donnison interrupted her again.

Donnison: “No but you’ve…you’ve made…you’ve made that point several times so I’ll ask you a third time – how has the blockade helped Israelis, particularly those living on the border? Because it hasn’t worked, has it? It hasn’t made them safer. We’ve had three wars in the past 12 years. Thousands and thousands of rockets coming out of Gaza – they’re still coming out. You’d acknowledge that. It’s not worked, has it?”

Haskel: “Well to be honest this is not a blockade. You have Gaza and you have an independent entity. So they really have an autonomy to dictate their own future. They could have turned Gaza into a Singapore. They…”

Donnison [interrupts]: “Yeah, yeah, you’ve made that…you’ve made that point. My point is that as…as you know Israel probably needs to be looking at alternatives to the blockade which isn’t working, is it?”

As is all too frequently documented here, the BBC serially avoids stories which would provide its audiences with understanding of why Israel’s counter-terrorism measures are necessary – for example:

BBC News again ignores abuse of Israeli humanitarian aid to Gaza

BBC ignores another story explaining the need for Gaza border restrictions

Documenting the BBC’s continuing silence on Gaza smuggling

BBC waives another chance to explain why Gaza’s naval blockade exists

BBC News passes up chance to explain why Israeli counter-terrorism measures exist

Had the BBC reported those stories and countless others, Donnison would of course not have been able to promote his facile and obviously politically motivated ‘blockade isn’t working’ theme quite so easily.  

After Haskel had noted the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, the exit of people, the electricity supplied to Gaza by Israel and other humanitarian efforts, she observed that Egypt’s counter-terrorism measures do not garner the same criticism as Israel’s measures. Donnison interrupted with the following snide remark:

Donnison: “Well I’m speaking to you, aren’t I?”

As Haskel explained the background to Egypt’s policy and the efforts made by Israel to balance humanitarian aid with security, Donnison interrupted her yet again.

Donnison: “There are…there are many Palestinians in Gaza…there are many Palestinians in Gaza – possibly the majority – who are sick and tired of Hamas. But some would say that you are doing little to help ordinary Palestinians. The UN says you are in effect collectively punishing them.”

Listeners were not provided with any evidence to support Donnison’s claim that “many” Gazans and even “possibly a majority” are dissatisfied with Hamas. Haskel pointed out that if that is the case, then it is the residents of the Gaza Strip who have to do something about it.

Donnison: “Did you welcome the US cutting of funding to the UN refugee agency? Did you think that was helpful?”

Haskel replied that she did think it was helpful and began talking about another topic which the BBC serially avoids: Hamas’ manipulation of UNRWA. Donnison promptly interrupted her yet again.

Donnison: “Well can I just…can I just quote you the former IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner saying ‘Less American aid to Palestinians means more violence against Israelis. It isn’t in Israel’s interest.'”

Donnison of course did not bother to inform listeners that in that same Ha’aretz opinion piece, Lerner also highlighted UNRWA’s “many problems, including its politics, determined since 1949 by their one-sided mandate” and the fact that “Palestinian refugee camps have been hotbeds for terrorist activities”: additional topics studiously avoided by the BBC.

Indeed, when Sharren Haskel began talking about the glorification of terrorism in UNRWA school books and the fact that international funding “is going into perpetuating violence and hatred”, Donnison interrupted her twice and closed the interview.

While Jon Donnison’s Middle East politics have never been much of a secret, it is worth noting that the BBC’s framing of its much promoted ‘Gaza economic crisis’ story has now evolved from the notion that the “deplorable” situation in the Gaza Strip is essentially the result of the “blockade” imposed by Israel and Egypt to the notion that the “deplorable” situation in the Gaza Strip is essentially the result of a “blockade” imposed by Israel that “hasn’t worked” and is hence – by implication – unjustified.

Related Articles:

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part three

Revisiting a 2014 BBC report by Jon Donnison

Revisiting a five year-old BBC story

Jon Donnison’s breach of BBC editorial standards unravels

BBC’s Jon Donnison breaches editorial guidelines in straw-clutching Tweet

 

When the BBC’s ‘context’ fails to make the grade

Context: The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.”

On November 21st the BBC’s Jerusalem-based correspondent Tom Bateman used Twitter to promote a filmed report concerning a restored piano in the Gaza Strip which had been published on the BBC News website that morning.

Previously Bateman had produced an audio report on the same story that was aired on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service radio earlier in the month. Three and a half years before that, the BBC had told the story of the same piano’s restoration on the BBC News website, on BBC Radio 4, on BBC World Service radio and on the BBC News TV channel.

Bateman’s latest report is titled “Gaza Strip’s only concert grand piano makes music again“.

“There is only one concert grand piano in Gaza and it has been played in a rare public performance after being restored.

The work, first documented by the BBC three years ago and now completed, was led by a charity that supports musicians in areas of conflict.”

Most of the report tells the piano’s story and depicts the concert that is its subject matter. However, the BBC also found it necessary to provide viewers with what was apparently supposed to be context.

“Gaza is blockaded by Israel and Egypt, who cite security concerns.” [emphasis added]

As was noted here when Bateman made a similar statement in his earlier audio report, this is by no means the first time that BBC audiences have heard that ‘Israel says’ portrayal of the reasons why it was necessary to introduce a ban on the entry of weapons to the Gaza Strip and controls on the import of dual-use goods.

Obviously BBC reporters such as Tom Bateman know full well that the context to Israel’s policy is the Palestinian terrorism which increased after Hamas’ violent take-over of the territory in 2007 and yet we nevertheless continue to see BBC journalists whitewashing that terrorism (even in a week following unprecedented terror attacks against Israeli civilians) by repeatedly describing the actions taken to counter it in terms of a ‘narrative’.

Viewers were also told that:

“Live music is rare in Gaza, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas”

No effort was made to explain to audiences the connection between the decline in live music events (and other social freedoms) and the fact that the Gaza Strip was violently taken over by an Islamist faction over a decade ago.

Although in both the above examples the BBC has ostensibly ticked boxes by providing audiences with background information relevant to the story, that ‘context’ is actually nothing of the sort. Rather than providing the full range of information required for proper enhancement of audience understanding, in both cases the BBC elected to skirt around ‘sensitive’ topics: Hamas’ terrorism and Hamas’ repression of the people who live under its extremist rule.

 Related Articles:

BBC’s Bateman portrays counter-terrorism as a ‘narrative’

 

 

Stats defy the BBC’s repeated portrayal of a ‘siege’ on Gaza

When, in the summer of 2014, the BBC began describing the counter-terrorism measures employed by Israel along its border with the Gaza Strip as a “siege” we noted that the definition of that term is “a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling those inside to surrender” and commented:

“A besieging army does not ensure and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid including food and medical supplies to those it surrounds. It does not supply them with 50% of their electricity supply, with oil and diesel or with cooking gas. It does not help them export their produce and give their farmers agricultural training. It does not evacuate their sick and treat them […] in its own hospitals.”

The use of that inaccurate terminology is however still evident in BBC content – both by unchallenged interviewees and by BBC journalists. For example:

“Gaza’s economy is definitely not able to support a population of 1.7 million people but that’s because of the siege imposed by Israel and Egypt.” (Jeremy Bowen, BBC Radio 4, 19/7/14)

“And I have to say – and this is one of the oddest things – from the decrepit heart of a half-destroyed city in a besieged and blockaded enclave, sometimes described as the biggest open air prison in the world, comes the best ice cream I have ever tasted.” (Roger Hearing, BBC Radio 4, 18/6/15)

“I had attended the war in Gaza in 2012. I’ve been working there for about the last five years and while I was there we had patients coming in – no equipment because the siege has gotten so bad even though it’s medical equipment – and we had to listen to patients’ chests by putting our ears to their chests…” (Tarek Loubani on ‘Newshour‘, 16/8/15)

“These people who suffered these wars and siege are now in rows having popcorn and watching [a movie that] reflects the Palestinian situation,” Mr Abu Saleh said. […] ‘The project is very important… because it is considered as one of the ways to break through the siege that has been forced on Gaza for 10 years’.” (Hugo Bachega, BBC News website, 8/4/16)

“‘The war’s over but the war-like situation is still going on’ he tells me. ‘The siege goes on, we’re still prisoners. The quality of life gets worse’.” (Yolande Knell, ‘From Our Own Correspondent’, 22/7/17)

“Of course life for ordinary people in Gaza is under tremendous pressure at the moment because it’s almost ten years of siege… […] I think what needs to be looked at is the whole siege of Gaza and I think that will require much more international determination both from the West and from the Gulf countries and Egypt to sort of say to Israel ‘look, it’s not in your interest to keep the siege going’.” (Oliver McTernan on ‘Newshour‘, 17/9/17)

“Hamas is also suffering because not easy now to rule Gaza and the policy of the political isolation from the international community, from the blockade and siege on Gaza from the Israeli occupation…” (Ghazi Hamad on ‘Newshour‘, 17/9/17)

“The siege for a long time destroyed our medical, our social, our economic life and nobody is interested about human rights where 2 million Palestinian people are living in this area.” (Mahmoud Zahar on ‘Hardtalk‘, 8/1/18)

On January 24th Israel’s Ministry of Defence published a summary of its Crossings Authority’s activity during 2017. In the section relating to the Kerem Shalom crossing the report states:

“The movement of Israeli goods that entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing grew and reached some 160 thousand lorries. The peak of the year was recorded in April when in one day over 1,000 lorries carrying goods crossed the crossing.”

The report also states that in 2017 there was a rise of 15% in the amount of goods transported and in the number of people using the various crossings to the Gaza Strip and Judea & Samaria administered by the authority, with 15 million crossings by Palestinians recorded.

Obviously a media organisation seriously committed to accurate and impartial reporting would not portray, or facilitate portrayal of, 160,000 truckloads of supplies in one year as a “siege”. The BBC, however, continues to do just that.  

Related Articles:

BBC fails to produce follow-up reporting on Gaza power story

No BBC reporting on latest Hamas cross-border tunnel

Gaza terror smuggling again not newsworthy for the BBC

Earlier this month BBC One viewers heard Andrew Marr portray Israeli counter-terrorism measures along the border with the Gaza Strip as follows (at 05:45 here) during an interview with the Israeli prime minister:

Marr: “Now what is also clear, however, is that your policy for Gaza is not working: the policy of having a kind of cordon around Gaza, restricting what can come in and out – a kind of blockade of Gaza – has actually increased the power of Hamas in Gaza and mobilised the population behind Gaza because of the appalling human rights situation inside Gaza. This policy is simply not working.”

As has been noted here on many occasions, the BBC’s portrayal of that topic is usually at best superficial and at worst misleading and politically motivated. In the past audiences have seen or heard restrictions on the movement of people and very specific materials in and out of the Gaza Strip inaccurately described as “collective punishment” or a “siege”.

“Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade around Gaza aimed at preventing attacks by militants there, though the measure has been condemned by rights groups as a form of collective punishment.” BBC News website, February 13th 2017.

“…the stifling border closures the Israeli government says are for security, the people here say are for collective punishment.” BBC World Service radio, February 1st 2017.

“One of the reasons Gaza’s often described as the largest open-air prison in the world is the difficulty of getting across the border with Israel.” BBC World Service radio, May 19th 2015.

However, beyond the ‘Israel says’ mantra, BBC audiences rarely hear about the reasons why restrictions placed on the border with the Gaza Strip are necessary because Hamas terrorism is consistently ignored, downplayed or erased – with the result being that BBC audiences are therefore ill-equipped to put portrayals such as the one by Marr into their appropriate context. 

Another story which would help BBC audiences understand the real reasons for counter-terrorism measures, including restrictions on the entry of weapons and dual purpose goods into the Gaza Strip, recently came to light.

“An Israeli laboratory at the Kerem Shalom Gaza crossing recently thwarted an attempted smuggling of several tons of explosive substances that were headed for terror groups in the strip.

The lab, which was recently established at the crossing at the behest of the Land Crossings Authority in the Ministry of Defense, was called into action after a truck arrived at the area that was carrying what was said to be a large load of car oils.

Guards conducting the security checks grew suspicious of the truck’s content, and transferred specific oil types to the lab for further investigation, where it transpired that the oils were not intended for car engines, but were rather dangerous substances intended for the production of large quantities of explosive devices.”

The BBC – which is of course committed to helping its funding public understand “the world around them” – has so far ignored this story, thereby passing up yet another opportunity to help its audiences understand why Israel’s counter-terrorism measures are necessary – even as it continues to focus their attentions on the “appalling human rights situation inside Gaza”.

Related Articles:

Documenting the BBC’s continuing silence on Gaza smuggling

BBC waives another chance to explain why Gaza’s naval blockade exists

BBC News passes up chance to explain why Israeli counter-terrorism measures exist

BBC ignores another story explaining the need for Gaza border restrictions

 

Beirut bank bomb blanked by BBC News

One might have thought that a story concerning a terror organisation’s threats against a sovereign country’s banking system would have made at least one headline on the BBC News website but that has not been the case.

On the evening of June 12th a Beirut branch of the Banque du Liban et d’Outre-Mer (BLOM) was targeted with a large bomb.

“Shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday night a loud explosion reverberated throughout the western half of the country’s capital, raising fears a little over a week after Lebanon’s security services announced it foiled an ISIS terror plot.

A 15-kilogram improvised explosive device rigged in a flower pot outside of the BLOM Bank branch in the up-scale Verdun district shattered the glass façade of the building, according to an initial statement by Internal Security Forces (ISF) chief Ibrahim Basbous.

Lebanon’s Red Cross announced that two people were injured by the explosion, one of whom was rushed to a nearby hospital while another was treated at the spot.”

Whilst investigations into the incident are ongoing and no claim of responsibility has been received to date, journalists, analysts and Lebanese officials alike appear to have few doubts concerning the background to the story. As Tony Badran of FDD explains:

“The bombing comes as Lebanese banks, in compliance with U.S. law, began closing accounts of individuals and institutions belonging to or affiliated with Hezbollah. […]

The U.S. Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, passed in December 2015, threatened sanctions against individuals and entities found to be financing Hezbollah. This left Lebanese banks with a binary choice – serving Hezbollah or maintaining access to the global economy – and they wisely chose the latter. Unsurprisingly, the banks’ moves provoked Hezbollah’s ire. […]

In a statement by its parliamentary bloc last month, Hezbollah attacked Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, blaming his institution and “a number of banks” for participating in a “war of annihilation” against it on Washington’s behalf. […]

Hezbollah is now warning of “social instability” as a result of the banking measures. One day before the bombing, the pro-Hezbollah daily al-Akhbar ran the headline: “Hezbollah to banks: Enough conspiring.” The piece claimed that the measures were tantamount to an attack on the organization’s weapons, and its author singled out BLOM while other Hezbollah mouthpieces accused it of “leading the soft financial war on Hezbollah.””

Reuters reports that:

“At a meeting with the finance minister and central bank governor, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said the attack “rose to the level of damaging the national security of Lebanon”.

The banking sector was “the fundamental dynamo” of the economy and “one of the main pillars of the state in light of the paralysis suffered by the constitutional institutions”, he added, according to a government statement.

The central bank is widely seen as one of the only effective institutions in the weak state afflicted by political crisis since the onset of the Syria war in 2011. The banking sector is vitally important to Lebanon as a conduit for billions of dollars of annual remittances that keep its economy afloat.”

The Reuters article also includes the following quote from an anonymous Lebanese banker:

“The banks have no choice. They will not accept not to implement the sanctions because for them their survival is more important. If the Americans say to a bank: ‘you are out of the banking system’, the bank will default because it will be shut down from transactions in dollars,”

But apparently the story of a foreign backed terrorist organization threatening a country’s banking system is not newsworthy in the eyes of the BBC. Below are screenshots of the Middle East page of the corporation’s website the morning after the attack (13/6/16) and the following day.

ME HP 13 6 16a

ME HP 14 6 16a

 

 

 

 

 

Another example of the BBC’s double standards on terror

When members of the Belgian and French security forces carried out an operation in a Brussels neighbourhood on March 15th in connection with last November’s terror attacks in Paris, the BBC had no doubt what the story was about and used accurate language to describe it to audiences.

Reports appearing on the BBC News website included the following:

Brussels report 1

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Brussels report 2

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Brussels report 3

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Compare that portrayal to this BBC report from December 2013 which included the following revealingly punctuated statements.

“A Palestinian man is killed and at least four wounded after Israeli troops launch a “counter terrorism” operation in the West Bank.”

“Israel said its forces opened fire after being attacked during “counter terrorism activity” in the camp.”

Compare it too to this politicised February 2016 BBC portrayal of Israeli counter-terrorism measures (in this case a brief road closure) as “collective punishment” against Palestinians.

Once again the double standards so often evident in BBC reporting of terrorism related stories in different locations are on display.

Related Articles:

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

The BBC, terrorism and ‘consistency’

BBC News continues to conceal PA’s glorification of terrorism

An article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 12th had its original title amended from “Israelis in disguise snatch Palestinian in hospital raid” to “Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Hebron hospital raid” before it was finally headlined “Israelis in disguise raid Hebron hospital, seizing suspect“.Shalaldeh arrest

The incident reported in that article took place when IDF Special Forces arrested 20 year-old Azzam Shalaldeh who was wounded whilst carrying out a terror attack in Gush Etzion on October 25th.

“The Israeli’s car was pelted with stones at the entrance to the settlement of Metzad. He was hit in the head, causing him to pull over and leave his vehicle. He was then stabbed by a Palestinian man.

The Israeli opened fire at the terrorist and wounded him, but the terrorist managed to flee the scene, likely towards the nearby village of Si’ir.”

The BBC article tells readers that:

“Mr Shalaldeh is alleged to have stabbed and wounded an Israeli on 25 October before escaping after being shot by the victim.

Palestinian officials said Mr Shalaldeh’s 27-year-old cousin, Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh, was shot and killed in Azzam Shalaldeh’s hospital room.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said he was shot after attacking the Israeli forces. Azzam Shalaldeh’s brother Bilal, who was also in the room at the time, said Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh was shot without warning when he emerged from a bathroom.

Shin Bet said Azzam Shalaldeh belonged to “a family of Hamas militants”, AFP news agency reported.”

It is of course highly unlikely that the Israel Security Agency used the term “militants” to describe the proscribed terror group Hamas and several other media organisations – including Sky News and CNN reported the same statement as having described “a family of Hamas operatives”.

The BBC did not clarify in its report that the Shaladeh family’s version of events supports that given by the ISA – thus leaving readers with a confusing impression which clearly does not contribute to meeting the corporation’s remit of building “understanding” of international issues.

“The Shalaldeh family, that came to collect Abdullah’s body, claimed Israel had executed him, but admitted that he tried to fight the soldiers after realizing they were trying to arrest his cousin.” [emphasis added]

According to the BBC report:

“The Israeli military operates an undercover unit colloquially known as Duvdevan, which sometimes mingle undetected with Palestinians during riots before snatching suspects.” [emphasis added]

The unit’s official name is Duvdevan and that title is not, as stated by the BBC, an informal appellation.

The ‘context’ provided to readers of the BBC’s report inaccurately states that ten – rather than twelve – Israelis had been murdered in the recent wave of terror as of November 12th:

“Ten Israelis and dozens of Palestinians have been killed in recent unrest.

Many of the Palestinian fatalities were attackers in near-daily stabbings of Israelis, shot by their victims or security forces.

The surge in violence began in September when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over, amid rumours that Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to strengthen Jewish rights at the complex.

Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.”

As we see, the BBC not only continues to avoid telling audiences in its own words that such rumours are baseless, but also continues to refrain from informing them on the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s role in promoting the incitement which underpins the wave of violence and its subsequent glorification of terrorism through acts such as erecting monuments to and naming streets after terrorists.